NO CONSPIRACIES NEEDED HERE

 

Focus on change, instead.

A few days ago, on an online forum, I came across some people discussing the proliferation of Codes of Conduct for conferences and, in general, any permanent or temporary community. Unsurprisingly, as it happens with everything from organic food to capitalism, migrations and the upcoming US elections, two factions emerged.

NO CONSPIRACIES NEEDED HERE /img/conspiracy-theories.jpg

Some people argued that this is just spontaneous, the overdue right side of history. Others argued that it is anything but spontaneous: such a change could only happen through a centralized, carefully orchestrated, well funded plan, entirely conceived and directed by some more or less obscure, but surely very small minority. What follows is my own two cents on the general issue, that applies to any “conspiracy” (online or not).

If I gave even the slightest impression that I think this phenomenon is orchestrated top down, I apologize, I don’t think so at all, really.

Instead…

This and many other good or bad things are only the natural consequence of other things, random or not, that are not regulated or managed, but even that is not the result of any conscious “conspiracy”.

If certain environmental situations let people engage, or actively push them towards certain behaviors, obviously there will be those who realize it and consciously begin to intensify or exploit those situations for their own exclusive profit. But that is a consequence, not a conspiracy.

In this and many similar cases, the mere concomitance (again: not deliberate, or orchestrated by anyone) of things like, quoting in random order just a few of many more factors:

  • economic inequality and increasing precariousness (which among other things increase the need for conformity)
  • individualism and relativism
  • decades of decline in education, ergo of the ability to understand, express oneself, reason critically …
  • public arenas (especially for-profit, digital social media) that MUST intensify, polarize and simplify strong emotions to maximize profits
  • increased awareness of many structural distortions that favor minorities

By happening at the same time, all these thing create an atmosphere where anyone who wakes up with a “strong” idea (right or wrong doesn’t count) has the possibility and encouragement to amplify it, spread it and above all expect it to be considered worthy of attention and respect (*).

An atmosphere where, as soon as a SMALL minority of any community starts screaming, all the others may make them happy, if only for a quiet life, or to feel part of something, anything.

And all this will happen without any need of:

  • anybody ever having to orchestrate anything a priory
  • anybody among “the powerful” ever consciously wishing to orchestrate anything a priori, from scratch

Executive summary

Certain things happen “spontaneously”, because they are the only thing that could have happened given the initial conditions, or rules. But this does not mean that those conditions or rules were deliberately created to make those things happen.Or that, after a certain level, it still matters whether something happened spontaneously or not. It’s that simple, really.

If a community plays by rules that discriminate, or have negative effects of any sorts, the thing to do is to understand how to change those rules. Because, most of the times, whether or not some few evil geniuses actually, deliberately conspired to set up those rules… is practically irrelevant. If you care about changing things, that is.

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